Tribute to Madiba

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God’s Thoughts to Me

The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against His anointed One.

“Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”
(Psalm 2:1-3, NLT)

Two Humble Men

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My country is in mourning. Thursday evening at 21:50, Tata Madiba has gone to be with His Lord! Tata, we are going to miss you! Now you know true freedom!

I wrote this post at the time when the South African Reserve Bank introduced our new set of banknotes nearly a year ago to honor this great man of boundless integrity.

I offer this post as a tribute to Madiba who lived humility, love, forgiveness and servanthood for he was a leader who always descended to the level of the person he served. He was a leader who washed the feet of his country:

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This week our beautiful rainbow nation, South Africa, was blessed by the South African Reserve Bank with a new set of banknotes.

On the one side it bears the renowned image of President Nelson Mandela and the other side, South Africa’s famous Big Five: the lion, elephant, rhinoceros, leopard and the buffalo.

My husband had the privilege of visiting Madiba twice at his modest home in the small Transkei village, Qunu, on provincial government meetings.

Tata Madiba's Qunu Residence

Tata Madiba’s Qunu Residence

He was overwhelmed by this gentle man who was truly larger than life. Mr Mandela was a humble man who taught South Africa the blessedness of forgiveness and he lived the truth of considering others as more important than himself.

Being the chief of his Xhosa clan, the villagers visited him often to ask him to settle disputes amongst them as was their custom.

To show their gratitude and respect, these humble, poor folk would bless him with a chicken or a goat. He received their gifts with heartfelt thankfulness.

Traditional Xhosa Women Dancing

Traditional Xhosa Women Dancing

On a state visit to England, Madiba was the guest of Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, at Buckingham Palace where he surprised the palace household staff by making his own bed in the mornings.

When told that there was enough palace staff to do these menial tasks, he replied that it was an old Robben Island habit he had not been able to unlearn yet.

Madiba was one of only two people that did not address the Queen as “Her Majesty”, but called her by her first name and got away with it! The other one, her husband, of course!

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I was always impressed by how this famous and great statesman always preferred to write with and sign documents with the cheapest pen we have in South Africa, a Bic pen.

A Jewish boy once personally delivered an invitation to Mr Mandela at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, to attend his Bar-Mitzvah.

Although Madiba did not know this young man from a bar of soap, he graciously accepted and attended the celebrations.

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During his term as the President of our country, he once queried a higher amount of money on his pay slip.When told it was his annual salary increase, he told his staff that he did not need more money for he lacked nothing.

That increase birthed the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. I am delighted that this fund is currently building the Nelson Mandela Children’s hospital.

One of his prison wardens during his imprisonment on Robben Island once told the story of how they all went together to church on Sundays for there was only this one small chapel on the island. They kneeled together and prayed together.

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After his release, they stayed friends. Years later, when the warden passed away, Madiba personally went to Cape Town to attend the funeral and console the widow.

Men of his stature and integrity are few and far between and very hard to find amongst politicians and Heads-of-State. His love for his country and all South Africans went way beyond any racial issues.

It saddens me to see the once beautiful dream South Africans had for a new South Africa now lying scattered amongst the reality of political unrest, violent crime and strikes, vandalism, murder, rape, domestic violence and drug abuse.

Robben Island

Robben Island

I hope that the Mandela family hid this sad state of affairs from Madiba as far as possible while he was an old and frail man. Yet, his lion heart could never be contained through old age.

G.K. Chesterton, an English writer, once remarked,”Once abolish the God and the government becomes god.” Wise words, for man was never created with the ability to govern himself or function independently from our Pappa.

Man was created as a finite spiritual being who derives his spiritual nature either from our Lord Jesus or the prince of the world; that greedy power-hungry destroyer of humanity.

He is the father of all systems and structures where power is abused, whether it be political, economical, social or religious.

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He deceives the power-hungry humanity into accepting a couterfeit security, for most people do not truly know that their Pappa loves them passionately.

Yet, Madiba was a man who was locked-up in prison for nearly a third of his life on earth. He came out and showed forgiveness in stark contrast with most of the power-hungry leaders of our continent.

What saddens me even more is the hurt and sorrow humans cause their Heavenly Father by paying allegiance to the father of all lies.

Madiba and Francois Pienaar in 1997 when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup

Madiba and Francois Pienaar in 1997 when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup

Not only do they destroy themselves, but also the beautiful creation He prepared as a gift for the crown of His creation, man! We are mostly ignorant of our folly.

Yet, He still became human just like us, He humbled Himself and paid the price for our freedom from our slavery to that cruel slave master.

In following in his Master’s footsteps, Nelson Mandela, reflected this true Picture  of humility.

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Madiba as Prisoner on Robben Island

I wish we could, like the Mandela family, hide man’s foul revolt from our Pappa to save Him all that anguish, heartache and sorrow!

Much love and sweet blessings xx

Mia

This is an edited repost.
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86 thoughts on “Tribute to Madiba

  1. I am so touched by your tribute and perspective of such a great man. I don’t know his whole story but it seems to me that he was like Joseph in that he had to spend so many years in prison, yet kept a good spirit.

    • Hi Jerralea
      There is a missionary from South Africa who said the same thing. Like Joseph in Egypt, Moses in the desert, Kind David with Saul. Madiba also had to go through that “wilderness” time before they can be instruments in God’s hands.
      Blessings XX
      Mia

    • Hi Colline
      Thank you for coming over for a visit. I was so surprised to see that you are also a South African. Yes, it was a sad day.
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  2. What a gorgeous tribute, friend! I learned so much from your words here. I had no idea the lengths and depths of his humility. What a beautiful servant. Many condolences to you and your country. And prayers for your health, dear one.

    • Dear Ashley
      It was indeed a sad day for our country when Madiba passed away. But now he has truly ended his long walk to freedom for He is now with Jesus! He was so ill the last year of his life.
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  3. What a rich and beautiful tribute. I have more appreciative thoughts than I can “speak” right now, but let me simply say it deeply blessed me. I must share it. Thank you.

    • Hi Sylvia
      Yes, Madiba was truly a man liked Moses, David and Joseph who went through deep water before they were able to be the instruments they were in God’s hand.
      Blessings XX
      Mis

  4. Fabulous post! I didn’t know about him calling Queen Elizabeth by her first name 🙂 As I remember this amazing man and as I read your post I was reminded of the “emptying” passage from Philippians 2. True humility!
    Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Blessings
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

    • Dear Mel
      I can assure you that Madiba treated the poorest of women in a shack the same way he treated Queen Elizabeth. With utmost respect!
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  5. This >>>> “Men of his stature and integrity are few and far between and very hard to find amongst politicians and Heads-of-State. His love for his country and all South Africans went way beyond any racial issues.” How right you are and the world is poorer place without him

    Mollyxxx

    • Dear Molly
      I was just glad that he could spend the last years of his life with his family and his wife, Graça Marcel. She is also a remarkable lady.
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  6. Hi Mia! Wow…and your husband met him, many times? That is such an honor. And what a loving tribute you have written here. I was wondering how you felt all this week. The news is full of South Africa and the Mandela celebrations (and they do look like celebrations too…). What an amazing man, full of humility, and patience to spare.

    Why is he called Mandiba? I don’t understand that. Maybe you could enlighten me? His name is Nelson Mandela, right? Is Mandiba a term of endearment?

    Blessings to you and your country at this sad time in your history. But what a man you have to call your own.
    Ceil

    • Dear Ceil
      My husband met with Madiba twice and he just told me last week that when he shook hands with Madiba, that this man had a very firm handshake.
      Blessings XX
      Mia

      • Hi Ceil
        I forgot to tell you that the Xhosa people belong to clans and this was Mandela’s chief name for he was he was the head of his clan
        Blessings XX

  7. Awesome tribute and lesson, Mia. It starts in humility. We can’t begin to find the truth of our Father without bowing the knee of our heart. Much wisdom in the man born with the heart of our Father.

    • Dear Nancy
      That is the mark of a true leader, one who washes the feet of the people he serves. Just like the Man who freed us from this world and its evil prince!
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  8. Mandela has been on my student’s lips all week. I wish they could read your words and understand something deeper than what they’ve been reading on the news. I’ve been emphasizing the power of his forgiveness all week. I hope they can begin to understand.

    • Dear Helene
      Yes, my friend, this kind of love and forgiveness is something all of us can only come from a heart that has touched our God and experienced His love and forgiveness.
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  9. Today my heart wept for Nelson Mandela, and the only consolation was to write. When I shared on The Extraordinary Ordinary, I found your post just above mine. Thank you for writing such a lovely tribute, from a heart much closer than mine to the life and legacy of Mr. Mandela.

    • Dear Deborah
      Despite Madiba’s love and forgiveness, dear one, was his incredible humbleness. He never wanted to hear of being called an icon for he knew they were a team of great leaders who worked together.
      Blessings XX
      Mia

    • Yes, my friend, I don’t think all the tributes this past week for Madiba will ever be able to capture this gentle man’s humbleness!
      Blessings XX
      Mia

    • Dear Dolly
      Yes, Madiba’s legacy will still live for many, many years in the hearts of my countrymen and mine as well! He was such a gentle and humble man.
      Blessings XX
      Mia

    • Thank you so much, David. Tata Madiba was truly a leader used by his Heavenly Father to lead a country out of hatred and civil war!
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  10. Thank you for this tribute and all of the thoughts and stories. I first admired Mandela when I read about his enormous ability to forgive in Philip Yancy’s book Rumors. I continue to be amazed by his gracious spirit.
    May God bless your country with wisdom and peace.

    • Hi Gail
      Philip Yancey has such a great way of looking at live and God. I remember a book of his where he wrote about people like Ghandi, Annie Dillard, Ghandi, and a few others.
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  11. Thank you for this wonderful post of tribute to Mr. Mandela who was such a man of integrity and honor. His practice of forgiveness and example of what a true Christian is – – was a testimony to us all. Thank you for sharing at “Tell Me a Story.”

    • Dear Hazel
      What amazes me is how our Pappa God brought Madiba to the end of himself before he became an instrument of honor in his Pappa’s hand. Much like Moses!
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  12. Mr Mandela was a humble man who taught South Africa the blessedness of forgiveness and he lived the truth of considering others as more important than himself.
    Beautiful and fitting tribute to a man whose life on earth was a gift to all of us. Tweeting this, Mia! Thanks…

  13. I thought of you, Mia, as I heard the news of your country’s beloved leader (well, “beloved” by all of the world). I didn’t know some of the facts you shared about his life. He truly was a great and humble man, and those two characteristics rarely go together! I heard a reporter here in the U.S. say that Mandela was so gracious and humble because of the years he’d spent in prison. Again, this reminds me that God is the Great Redeemer and sets us free even though we may sit in a prison. My prayers are with you and your mourning country, my friend!

  14. Mia –
    This is such a beautiful tribute to a man that we all so admire. And always will. He has taught the world much by his courage, his forgiving spirit, his gentleness and his joy, which was always evident on his sweet face. Praying that God will raise up another to continue the work that has been started. I am most grateful to have read your words this morning.
    Blessings,
    Joanne

    • Dear Joanne
      Oh, Madiba had a sweet face with eyes that were always filled with laughter, softness and love for every person he served!
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  15. I agree with the above-this was a beautiful tribute. I’m sorry for your country’s loss. I’m sorry also–like you–that we can’t “hide man’s foul revolt from our Pappa”. I wish I could hide it from my own eyes and my children’s eyes. One day my friend…it will be gone…and we’ll have the Prince of Peace ruling over us. Isn’t that an amazing time to consider? Blessings to you…

  16. Mia, oh my goodness. I have so many emotions as I read these beautiful, heartfelt, loving words. I can only imagine what the atmosphere must feel like at a time like this. Though I never had the honor to meet Mr. Mandela, I fought against Apartheid by joining an organization here in the States that believed in non-violence. I also prayed and your country and the people of a land that God did not and will not ever forget.

    Thank you Mia for remembering this great man.

    • Hi Dina
      I am so thankful for everyone that stood up against the Apartheid in my country. But even though it is not on our law books any more, it will take a mighty act of God to eradicate it from all the people’s hearts!
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  17. I’ve been blessed by how deeply the act of forgiveness has been lived in this man’s life. What an excellent example and heritage to leave a world caught up in going their own way.

    • Dear Susan
      One thing that breaks my heart is that although Madiba left us with such a great legacy, even my own country is still filled with so much crime and corruption.
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  18. I had been waiting/wondering when I’d see something written by you re: this amazing, loving, caring man. My hope is that, b/c HE changed things in your nation, with his love and encouragement, that the basis of it will become stronger and stronger in what he placed. Thank you so much for sharing the way you did. Truly caught my heart even deeper, b/c of the way your heart has been touched around and about him, and now shared with many around the world.

    Bless you much. Thank you MUCH!!!

    • Dead Joanne
      Thank you for your kind words! It is very difficult not to love this great man. It is not often that the world is blessed with a leader of his calibre.
      Blessings XX
      Mia

    • Hi Linda
      Even though we grieve, my friend, I am also so thankful that Madiba is now experience true freedom with his Heavenly Father!
      Blessings XX
      Mia

  19. Praying that the peace he represented is absorbed deep into the hearts and spirits not only of all Africans but of all people and all nations!

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